Dear Commissioner Johansson, dear Minister Darmanin,
In light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are writing to you as the European activist movement of Europe Must Act, regarding the need for the EU to protect and welcome people fleeing conflict.
More than one million people have so far managed to make their way out of Ukraine, receiving welcome from their neighbours including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and Slovakia. Yet, as the crisis continues to unfold, UNHCR estimates that up to 4 million people may soon become refugees. Volunteers and local grassroot NGOs on border areas and in cities of neighbouring countries refer to delays in the humanitarian response and the need to improve the cooperation between authorities and NGOs.
We welcome the Council's unanimous decision to activate the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time and your reassurance that long-term foreign residents, asylum seekers and refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine will also be eligible for special protection under this Directive. However, if, as we very much hope, you intend to take a human-rights centred approach to this crisis, it is vital that the same rights apply to all those who are fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and that special attention is paid to those not eligible for emergency protection measures and the most vulnerable ones.
This crisis shows more than ever that the EU needs safe and reliable routes to asylum and swift relocation from border regions to European cities. Only one week after the beginning of Russia’s invasion, the European Union and its Member States have shown the willingness and ability to respond to this crisis of historical significance with solidarity, humanity and unanimity. This means that such an approach to protecting people on the move is not only possible, but also desirable. In addition, the wide support towards refugees by European citizens is a clear sign of support for more welcoming policies.
The fundamental principles of humanity and solidarity must also guide European decision-makers in the negotiations on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Future policies must focus on protecting, welcoming and integrating people on the move, instead of containing them in prison-like camps and deterring them.
Thus, we urge the EU and member states to not forget the importance of guaranteeing the same protection to all those seeking sanctuary in Europe, whether fleeing Ukraine or other conflicts, ensuring that everyone is given a safe and fair way to do so. Such a guarantee is an obligation under international humanitarian law.
Europe Must Act
If you want to join Europe Must Act in raising these demands to Commissioner Johansson and Minister Darmanin, you can find a letter here.